The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was

By Chantal Hebert, Jean Lapierre

Author note: Jean Lapierre (with)
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A sly, insightful and beautifully unique booklet from one in every of Canada's hottest political analysts, Chantal Hébert, and considered one of Quebec's best political broadcasters, Jean Lapierre.

Only the main fearless of political reporters might dare to open the outdated wounds of the 1995 Quebec referendum, a still-murky episode in Canadian historical past that maintains to defy our knowing. The referendum introduced one of many world's so much winning democracies to the threshold of the unknown, and but Quebecers' attitudes towards sovereignty proceed to baffle the country's political category. Interviewing 17 key political leaders from the duelling referendum camps, Hébert and Lapierre start with an easy premise: asking what have been those political leaders' plans if the vote had long past the opposite direction. Even 2 many years later, their solutions may well surprise you. And in asking an unforeseen query, those veteran political observers cleverly reveal the fractures, tensions and fears that proceed to form Canada today.

Literary Awards
Finalist – QWF Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction (2014)

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We had simply are available. We have been in a financial obstacle. We have been embarking on an important economic correction. that's the place our head was once. ” Hugh Segal have been a senior aide to greatest Davis on the time of patriation. He had served Brian Mulroney as leader of employees over the interval of the ultimate negotiation of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord and the federal referendum that undefined. A lifelong Tory with a politically ecumenical bent, Segal didn't lack for Liberal contacts in excessive locations; a decade after the referendum, top Minister Paul Martin could rent him to the Senate. On referendum evening, Harris had but to have a unmarried assembly of substance with Chrétien. He had attended his first summer time collecting of the premiers in August and his arrival at the scene had mostly been eclipsed by way of Jacques Parizeau’s sovereignty speak. Over the process the referendum crusade, lots of the federal intelligence that filtered all the way down to Queen’s Park and its newly put in optimum used to be funnelled in by means of Segal and Dicerni. the knowledge they accrued didn't upload as much as a good looking photo for the federalist reason. within the lead-up to the 1980 referendum, Pierre Trudeau had taken little with no consideration. On his government’s orders, federal bureaucrats had sketched out contingency plans to accommodate a federalist defeat. no longer in 1995. Complacency was once an element. The No camp used to be lengthy confident a win used to be within the bag and the polling numbers had subsidized up its convinced forecast. yet one other point was once additionally at play. In 1980, Jean Chrétien—then Trudeau’s lead minister at the referendum path in Quebec—had resented the strength that the civil carrier had expended on worst-case eventualities, fearing their paintings could backfire in Quebec through suggesting a scarcity of self belief in the federalist camp. So apprehensive had the making plans made him, he’d sought after briefing notes at the topic shredded to avoid any probability of a leak. Chrétien used to be no longer so politically naive as to take a victory with no consideration. but when worse got here to worst, he reasoned, there will be time adequate to regroup after the vote. On his leading ministerial watch fifteen years later, his method towards weighing federal techniques within the occasion of a certain vote prevailed. From the point of view of Queen’s Park, Chrétien’s approach was once a worrisome improvement. His political place within the occasion of a convinced vote could were considerably extra fragile than Trudeau’s in 1980 and he stood to have much much less room to manoeuvre in Quebec. Trudeau had simply received a majority mandate in an election that had noticeable his Liberals paint Quebec pink. They got here out of that crusade with seventy-four of the province’s seventy-five seats and each unmarried Quebec MP used to be a federalist. If he had misplaced that first referendum, Trudeau don't have lacked for Liberal boots at the Quebec flooring to execute a federalist counteroffensive. In 1995 Chrétien didn't benefit from the related virtue. His energy base was once in Ontario, the place his celebration had so much lately gained each seat yet one. within the 1993 election just a handful of Quebec francophone ridings had elected Liberal MPs.

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